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Does this official data betray a conspiracy? Only 1.6 per cent of the 2.9 million claims approved under the Forest Rights Act recognise community rights; the rest recognise individual rights over forest dwellings and farms in forestland. Now consider this: community rights under the Act include the right to collect minor forest produce, like bamboo and tendu leaves, which accounts for half the forest department revenue. Reason enough for states to scuttle community rights, which the Centre is trying desperately to enforce. The government of India views MFP rights as a means to curb Naxalism since the states most affected by Naxalism are also home to the maximum number of people dependent on forest produce. These states contribute more than 90 per cent of the MFP trade
Down To Earth correspondents travelled to six states to unravel the conspiracy to deprive forest people of their rights. Richard Mahapatra reports from Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava from Madhya Pradesh, Sumana Narayanan from Odisha and Andhra Pradesh and Aparna Pallavi from Maharashtra
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